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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    4,421

    Default Heading for the Horizon - 2012

    It is more than a week ago now, that the A380 landed at LAX, two hours late. We had flown over the Channel Islands NP, and crossed the coast over Ventura. The flight path took us over greater LA, before heading back west to land on the east-west runway. Bonus was that we got a fantastic view of the spectacular Sierras, all covered in snow, and sparkling like diamonds on this clear spring morning. A wonderful welcome to North America.

    My flight some hours later, to Philadelphia, via Atlanta, took us over the deserts of southern AZ and NM. As I sat there in amazement at the view below me, I kept snapping away with my camera to record this wonderful desert scenery. (The photos are nowhere near clear enough to publish.) Having always maintained that you don't see as much flying, as you do driving, I was left to eat my own words. This special area of the country, through which I have driven at least four times, looked so much more special from the air. I was able to pick out a few landmarks, in particular I-10, and if I had had a map with me, am sure I could have picked out many more. It was such a clear day, and the landscape was just spectacular.

    Doylestown PA

    Until I purchased my van, I had never heard of this place, but it will now forever hold a special place among my souvenirs. On my arrival I was met by my couchsurfing host, who together with his wife made me most welcome and comfortable. Much of my time there was spent resting and sleeping. Still we got in quite a few activities, and I had lots of opportunities to meet some of the locals.

    On the day after my arrival (Wed), I was invited along to a Women's Business Forum, which was almost a full day, with many excellent speakers as well as a chance to see some of the products of local businesses. On Friday we went to Philadelphia, where a Doylestown artist, another couchsurfer, had organised a luncheon for the folks involved in Philadelphia Magic Gardens Project and the Clay Studio. This project was started by Lilly Yeh more than 25 years ago, and the luncheon was in her honour. It was great to walk through the project with her, and hear how things evolved, and why things are where they are. I need to learn a lot more about this project, which should be one of the attractions for Philadelphia. As it is, it is something which 95% of those visiting the city would never see, and I venture to say that many living in the city are not aware of it.

    That evening I was invited to attend a dinner in a small cafe, with a showing of a documentary made by an elderly local film maker. Unfortunately he was not able to be present, due to ill health. The film told the story of Charles Eames, architect and furniture designer. I had heard of him. His furniture turns up from time to time, on the (British) Antique Roadshow - one of my favourite shows.

    All these activities gave me great opportunities to get a real feel of what life is like, these days, in that little corner of the world.

    The Ford

    After my day at the forum on Wednesday, I had made arrangements to pick up the vehicle I had purchased. I was not disappointed. It seems to be everything I had thought it would be. It is clean, runs well, and handles like the truck it is. My arms and shoulders are getting exercise like they have not had for a long time. I am slowly getting used to having a very short nose in front of me, and although its overall length is no longer than my Outback, there is a lot more vehicle behind me. It has a very large turning circle, so much so, that it is difficult to do a U turn. I have now taken to going round the block. And its width..... I shall have to get used to that soon. So far I have hit the kerb a few times, and knocked over some of those orange lane markers at construction sites. I am terrified that one day I will hit a vehicle, or side-swipe a parked car. Especially in the narrow winding streets of suburban Boston.

    But there is much I really like. The large windows all around give fantastic vision, and the large side mirrors almost eliminate blind spots. It also has the small round extra mirror, which gives an even wider view. The three large windows have blinds, which look like they have never been used. And when I lay down the sofa/bed back seat, it looks like it will be big enough for me to sleep on. Am now having serious thoughts of leaving that seat in there, rather than replacing it with a mattress.

    The vehicle searching/purchasing/registering thread can be found here.

    The auto electrician

    On the Thursday, I drove the car to West Chester, where Jerry, the auto electrician, installed an auxiliary battery for me. This is needed to make sure that when I run my fridge off the battery overnight, I will still be able to start the engine, the next day. Jerry did a wonderful job, even covering the battery with carpet to match the interior. The only thing he impressed on me is where the fuses are, and what they are for. The drive to West Chester had been quite traumatic, so rather than have me wait a couple of hours for him to do the work, Jerry had his wife take me out for a cup of tea and lunch.

    Lunch was at one of those nice little old places that has been there for ever and a day. It too, is the sort of thing which should be among the 'attractions'. A real gem. The only place where I have been served a pot of tea with bone china cup and saucer. And all that for less than $3. The lunch was great as well, and just as reasonable. After lunch we called in at the AAA so that I could pick up the maps I am going to need over the next couple of weeks. And while there, took out a AAA membership. She was a great sales lady... and convinced me that I should have a premium membership. So now I'm all set up - to break down! lol

    Lifey
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 04-05-2012 at 03:25 AM. Reason: Added link.

  2. #2

    Default La La land

    Glad you saw my favorite approach to LAX. Aerial views do provide a different perspective than the road especially if you know what to see. Another favorite is the view of Yosemite Valley on LAX-Sacramento or San Francisco flights but unfortunately many people dodn't know where to look.

    If you return to LA before early June you might like see more Eames items including their living room. They are part of the CA Design exhibit at the LA County Art Museum. If you don't make it back, then following structural preservation their home (in Pacific Palisades) should be open again. Now that the Getty Museum is starting to focus on mid-century homes they may have exhibits in the future.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    8,413

    Default Cool.

    Thanks for the update Lifey, Great to see you engaging with the Local's and taking such an interest ! You will soon settle down and adjust to the size of the Ford and I am pleased that has all turned out well. The good thing about those 'Big Mirrors' is that if they fit through a gap, so does the rest of you. [Tight turns etc, are of course, a different matter !] Of course that doesn't help with kerbs and cones that are low down either, but are a big help in gauging the width and clearance to other vehicles. When driving an RV, I also have the nearside mirror angled slightly down, so that I can see the back of the vehicle to it's position on the road. I guess what I am saying is, you are more likely to clip a kerb then you are to side swipe another vehicle, so don't be too terrified ! Relax. ;-)

    Look forward to updates !

    Dave.
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 04-05-2012 at 03:33 AM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, Australia
    Posts
    53

    Default

    Good to see you have your vehicle and on your way. Sounds exciting. Looking forward to the updates. Be well. Keith

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    4,421

    Default Some pictures to accompany the above text.

    Now that I have had another close look at my pictures, they may come out OK, on here. (Ignore the dates on the photos. I have no idea why it kept jumping back and forth from 26th to 27th and back to 26th. And to complicate matters further, it is on Australian time.)


    Approaching LA, over the Channel Islands.


    The spectacular desert country of southern AZ. Note the single road.


    The greening effect of water.


    I was left wondering why the circles?


    One of the many mountain ranges over which we flew.
    By now, the altitude was forming moisture on the outside (or in between) the window.


    Village for Arts and Humanities.... 2544 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia.




    This was the first mural of the Magic Gardens Project.
    Together with the stage, it turned a derelict, rubbish strewn area, into a vibrant space for the youth of the area to enjoy.
    Of course, it was the young people who worked with the original founder, to create all this beautiful space.



    Some of the garden furtniture which adds more interest and comfort to this space.


    The sculptured fencing around most of the project is to simulate the waves of music.




    The angels of angel alley - a meditation garden.




    This wall was left standing when the building was demolished.
    It is now a memorial to the local boys who lost their lives in the Vietnam, and subsequent conflicts.

    I could go on. This project is something you have to see to appreciate, and then, I doubt you would without the commentary to which we were privilidged. There are many more photos of it in my USA 2012 album.

    If you put the address into Google maps, you can get the little yellow man to walk you through most of it. It covers quite a few house sites, and crosses over two streets.

    The Germantown Avenue area of Philadelphia, is a very run down area. Many buildings are empty and vandalised. In an effort to bring traders back to the area, and rejuvinate it, the city has employed artists to redecorate some 140 buildings. I saw the video of what it will look like, and I have to say, it will be stunning. I sincerely hope it has the desired effect, because the young people with whom we spoke are proud of their city, and full of confidence for their future.

    Lifey

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2000
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    9,503

    Default Irrigation Circles

    The round irrigation circles are created because of what is called "center pivot irrigation" where a single source of water pipe in the middle and the system slow walks around in a giant circle as it moves in the field. Here is an explanation of how this works.

    And the RTA Custom Maps also use the little yellow man for street-level viewing.

    Mark

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    2,356

    Default

    Such a great report, and beautiful photos! That single road could possibly be I-10! I look forward to reading more in this report, as I know it will be good. Loved the description of the places you went. I'd also love your reactions to any local cuisine you may have along the way, too.


    Donna

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    4,421

    Default Food?? not likely.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonnaR57 View Post
    I'd also love your reactions to any local cuisine you may have along the way.
    Donna, don't hold your breath.

    A fussier eater than I you will hardly find. I am not fond of food in general. I eat to live, but certainly do not live to eat. I will never try anything with which I am not familiar. And on the whole, prefer to cook my own food wherever I go, so I get to eat what I know and what I like. Hence my preference for hostelling and camping.

    So as I said, don't hold your breath. If they haven't got plain tomato soup (without herbs or spices) and a plain ceaser salad, I am not likely to eat there. Exception might be the fish and chips served at Mel's diner on Highland in LA. Just like home.

    Lifey

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    4,421

    Default

    When I was planning my trip to Boston, I considered several routes. However, I discovered that 611 runs from Doylestown, all the way to Portland PA. I decided this would give me the opportunity to look for the footbridge across the Delaware River, which I had not been able to find, last trip(#122). I had been told that from this bridge, one is able to get a good view of the viaduct over the river, at I-80.

    So when I set out on Saturday morning it was 611 north, the whole way to Portland. It was a pleasant road, which for a good part of the way followed the river... winding and narrow, and very scenic. No problems finding the bridge this time. However, it was misty and drizzling, and when I looked at the viaduct from the bridge... there it was, way in the distance. Maybe on a clear day it could make a good photo, but this was not photo-taking weather.

    Stopped in Stroudsburg to get something to eat, before heading up to I-84, and direct to Boston. It was in Burger King - not a place I normally frequent - that I happened to ask, what's a good route to take to I-84. I had been thinking of taking 402. Though it was a two lane, and went through a forest area, there were no towns marked along it. One of the young lasses serving confirmed that it was the route to take, and went on to give me turn by turn instructions how to get onto it. She wrote them all down for me, and you could see, she was visualising driving there, as she was writing.

    402 Passes through a State Forest, and for the most part is limited to 45 mph. But unlike other areas with such speed limits, one was actually able to maintain it the whole way. There was very little traffic, no lights, few turns and hardly a cross road. It was a most pleasant and relaxing drive.

    I had noted a comment on forum for a by pass of Hartford CT, via I-91 and I-291. Unfortunately, when I got to the exit to I-291, there was a police car across the ramp, and I was forced to continue on I-91 to Springfield. The MassPike took me to I-95, and son lives just off one of the exits there. Yeah! as luck would have it. I forgot which exit it was, and took the wrong one. It was probably because I was not feeling the best, and getting a bit tired, that I was not able to find my way on the map. But, when you ask, it is amazing how helpful people are. The gent whom I asked, was just about to go my way, and said... follow me. Which I faithfully did.

    Arrived at son's house just in time for dinner.

    Lifey

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    4,421

    Default Boston MA to St Paul MN, via Canada.

    After ten days in Boston, celebrating a birthday and Easter, it was time to move on. Leave 8am on Tuesday morning. Two hours to the NY border, on the MassPike, and then straight up the NY Thruway to Buffalo. The hotel was booked in London ON. A long day, but there would not be any sightseeing. Just a matter of covering the miles.

    Well! That was the plan.

    Reality is that I finally got away just after 9am. Traffic was light. Progress was good. That is, until ten miles east of Springfield. I did not note for how many miles, but it was well over half an hour that the traffic progressed at less than 5mph... that is when it was not stationary. There were three such patches. When I got to the border I was already more than two hours behind schedule.

    The first rest area to which I came in NY - and needed to stop - was closed. That is how I came to stop at the next rest area...





    Pattersonville Travel Plaza - I-90 NY.

    Besides having lunch, I explored this area a little, in fact, far too little. Some of these rest areas are attractions in themselves. I was told that most of the history of which it speaks is less than five miles away. On some future pass through this area, I plan to have sufficient time to check out.

    With minimum stops, I made it to Buffalo, by 6pm. I had to have time out of the van, and spent an hour shopping for necessary supplies and filling the tank. It was then on to the border. Once in Ontario, I was totally reliant on my gps, a most uncomfortable feeling. Without any further stops I arrived at the hotel just after 10pm. It is the last time I have booked accommodation. If I had not booked that non-refundable room, I would have stopped in Buffalo. (587 miles.)

    Next day was not an early start, as I made my way non-stop to the border and on to Detroit. Destination American Jewelry and Loan, a.k.a. Hardcore Pawn. They were not filming on this day and Les, Seth and Ainsley were not present. I absorbed the atmosphere... just as one sees it on television. The guys there were great, especially when they realised why I had come. Being the salesman he is, Bobby G managed to sell me a souvenir keyring. The guys also directed me to other things I wanted to get in Detroit. It was a great experience.

    Then on to Orland Park IL, straight down I-94. It was here, somewhere in central MI, whilst I was overtaking a large truck, that I heard a loud boom behind me! Glancing in the mirror, I saw the complete tread of one of the truck's back wheels flying across the road, narrowly missing the car behind me. Arrived at friend's place just in time for me to accompany the family out to dinner. That was such a great night. Good food, great company and a pleasant ambiance, despite the fact that it was a trivia night. Actually we all had a bit of fun, trying to answer the trivia questions.

    [Which three States have Commonwealth in their title? What is the only country in Africa which has all the vowels in its one-word name?]

    My hosts were very good to me, and made me comfortable. I had a chance to get to a hairdresser and do some shopping in my favourite department store. Managed to find 9 audio tapes of my favourite music. Now I can play music in my van. Later, in Goodwill in St Paul, I was able to double this collection, giving me a great selection of tapes. (Frank Sinatra, Marty Robins, Perry Como, Paul Anka, Dean Martin, Louis Armstrong, etc. etc.)

    All too soon the time was up, and early on Friday morning I set off for St Paul MN. Rather than traverse through Chicago, I chose to take I-80 west to I-39 north, and then onto I-90 and I-94, straight into St Paul. The best thing here was that I was able to drive straight to my destination, without a map and leaving madam Nuvi nicely tucked away in my glovebox. Arrived just before dinner time. (I do time things well, don't I?) It was a great drive, that Friday. (458 miles)

    The van is getting easier to handle, and its size more managable. All the way from Boston to St Paul, I had the cruise set at 65mph. This resulted in a 16 mpg fuel consumption, despite the go-slow on the MassPike. I was quite pleased. The driver's seat is extremely uncomfortable. It does not have any lumbar adjustment. For the last leg of this trip I put the pillow in my back. This helped a lot. Seems like a few cushions will solve this.

    By now I have put 2000 miles on this vehicle, and have resolved not to drive more than about 400 miles on any one day. It is not giving me enough time out of the vehicle, and is simply too exhausting.

    Lifey

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